Memories of the Memory Stairs: the artworks depicted in these images and videos were originally part of a fully immersive digital “virtual reality” experience called The Memory Stairs. The idea of The Memory Stairs was to have a participant, via a head mounted display, immersive 3D sound, and scents released into the space, visit a number of chronologically ordered life memories, from before birth to near death that I designed. As a virtual environment experience it was somewhat successful, but very painstaking to do, and not many people were able to experience it because of the complexities of setting up the full system. In looking for a better way to share the essence of The Memory Stairs with more people, I came up with the concept of incorporating videos taken of the original memories and rear projecting them onto a screen. However, I still wanted the immersive, embracing effect of the virtual reality version, so I made a rig to hold three 5 x 10 foot silk panels which were folded in slightly so that the visitor could feel they were encompassed in a very unique and ethereal space. With the sound played, and wind from a fan used to gently blow the silk panels, a subtle liveliness was brought to the images. Many participants found the analogue nature of this experience to be more evocative than the fully digital version.
I have been working as an artist since long before the days of digital media. While I feel that digital media is incredibly plastic, there are times when I want to bring something tangible back into the artwork. Most often this is via objects placed into the digital images, and the texture and object-ness of the print by which a work is exhibited. In this case, the ability to walk amongst the images, to feel the breeze and hear the sounds float by in one’s own personal space, brings the digital full circle to life and adds layers of experience and meaning that could not be achieved in any other way.